Sunday, July 26, 2020

Fringe 2020 - Figuring Out How Virtual Fringe Works

If you're anything like me, you like to think you're tech savvy, but you also frequently end up like a half step behind where you think you ought to be so the wonders of technology actually do make things easier and not just more complicated.

The Minnesota Fringe Festival's new Virtual Fringe experiment this year (since we can't gather and are all on our individual couches or favorite chairs viewing theater online instead) actually looks pretty easy, and I don't say that lightly.

I inadvertently got a dry run at it when Phillip Lowe of Maximum Verbosity did a Fringe retrospective/fundraiser on Twitch earlier this spring.

This was the first time I'd been on Twitch but it didn't require anything of me.  No download to my computer, no account I needed to sign up for.  In fact, the only reason I even set up an account is so I could text at Phillip while I was in the program and he'd know it was me and not "random unidentified guest."  No need to do that for shows I'm just watching.

In fact, the Fringe has a handy chart on their Virtual Fringe overview page that lays out all the platforms that artists will be running their live and recorded content on from July 30 to August 9.

Vimeo, YouTube, Twitch, Facebook Live, Bandcamp and Zoom

An account isn't required (though for Facebook that just applies to public pages, but I think the show pages will be.)

They're all free platforms, no charge to use them to watch shows.

And all but one of them (Zoom), you don't even need to download anything onto your computer.

And if, like me, your day job has converted to a work from home situation and meetings have been required, you're probably familiar with and have downloaded Zoom by now anyway.

So that's it.  The Virtual Fringe line-ups for the Nightly Fringe (schedule up now) and the Digital Hub (schedule goes live on July 30) all let you know which platform the artists are using.  In some cases, they have an option of more than one.

All Nightly Fringe offerings are free, and you don't even need a Fringe button to access them.

All Digital Hub offerings, you need to buy a Fringe button (but you might have already done that, like I did, to help them raise money before now) and then log in to your Minnesota Fringe website account (and if you don't have one, you should set one up, it's free), in order to access the offerings on the hub.

Now, I say "free" here a lot but artists on both platforms are also free to request donations.

(And let's face it, artists should be paid for their talent and for entertaining you.)

However in a lot of cases, the reason the artists are asking for a donation is that it's a donation for the Minnesota Fringe Festival itself.

The Fringe is still trying to reach its $100,000 fundraising goal in order to keep the festival afloat so it still exists next year when (fingers crossed) we can all gather together again in August 2021.

They're about $70,000 of the way there.  $30,000 to go.

And the Nightly Fringe offering on Friday, July 30 is just straight-up an online fundraiser for the Fringe, with an amazing line-up of artists who all came together to help keep the Fringe alive as a resource for all artists in the future.

Like the rest of us, the Fringe is doing what it can to survive until better times.

There's other things we can do (like vote, and help campaigns, and protest) to insure we get some better times.

But in the meantime, there's also a festival of artists gathering from July 30 to August 9 to present us with some theater via the web.

So let's enjoy that while we're at it, too, and keep it going.

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